Functional connectivity of the right inferior frontal gyrus and orbitofrontal cortex in depression

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2020 Jan 30;15(1):75-86. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsaa014.


The orbitofrontal cortex extends into the laterally adjacent inferior frontal gyrus. We analyzed how voxel-level functional connectivity of the inferior frontal gyrus and orbitofrontal cortex is related to depression in 282 people with major depressive disorder (125 were unmedicated) and 254 controls, using FDR correction P < 0.05 for pairs of voxels. In the unmedicated group, higher functional connectivity was found of the right inferior frontal gyrus with voxels in the lateral and medial orbitofrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, temporal lobe, angular gyrus, precuneus, hippocampus and frontal gyri. In medicated patients, these functional connectivities were lower and toward those in controls. Functional connectivities between the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and the precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the angular and middle frontal gyri were higher in unmedicated patients, and closer to controls in medicated patients. Medial orbitofrontal cortex voxels had lower functional connectivity with temporal cortex areas, the parahippocampal gyrus and fusiform gyrus, and medication did not result in these being closer to controls. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the orbitofrontal cortex is involved in depression, and can influence mood and behavior via the right inferior frontal gyrus, which projects to premotor cortical areas.

Keywords: depression; functional connectivity; impulsivity; inferior frontal gyrus; inhibition; non-reward; orbitofrontal cortex; reward.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Parahippocampal Gyrus / physiopathology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology